Time Machine

We could have stopped here with the question of primitive times, poised at the fork in the road, one way pointed towards inevitable progress and the other towards impending disaster. Except that it now seems clear that the two are intertwined and there is no simple bifurcation—which is not to say that irrevocable turning points haven’t happened and are not happening. Cutting that knot, making a stand and aligning oneself, is a decision with its own risks and opportunities. All the available evidence must be sifted before that commitment is made, and that takes time.

We have been tracking what H.G. Wells called his ‘“fantasias of possibility”’ in which ‘each one takes some great creative tendency, or group of tendencies, and develops its possible consequences in the future’ (1921: np.). This speculative, imaginative exploration of the future is part of the public use of reason. Documents enacting scenario planning are central to the public use of reason. According to The Rockefeller Foundation, scenario planning exercises are part of ‘a creative process ... explor[ing], through narrative, events and dynamics that might alter, inhibit, or enhance current trends, often in surprising ways’ (2010).

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